In honor of National Pet Week that has since passed, here are the ABCs of showing your pet you care year-round.
A – Adventure
Whether your pet enjoys leisurely strolls through the neighborhood, indoor play, or multi-mile hikes, spicing up your current routine with new routes, styles of play, and toys can invigorate your pet’s sense of adventure.
B – Baths
In your pets’ eyes, this might not be their favorite way for you to shower them with love by showering them with water, however it’s sometimes necessary to get rid of unwanted bacteria or bugs by using regular or flea & tick shampoo.
C – Cuddles
Even if your pet isn’t a fan of lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’, you can still implement mutual activities that both of you enjoy like increased playtime or behavioral training with low-calorie treats. If they are cuddle bugs, be sure to give them an extra dose of hugs and kisses and rest assured knowing you’re releasing your own personal feel good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.
D – Dentistry
Have you ever heard the old adage, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep”? Snarky sentiment aside, it’s important to brush and floss your pet’s teeth and take them in for dental exams to ensure their gums and teeth remain healthy.
E – Exercise
Life gets busy and it can be difficult to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. One simple but effective exercise for dogs is daily walks through the neighborhood or 30-minute trips to a nearby dog park (bonus points if it’s an enclosed, off-leash park). For cats, kitty condos, boxes, scratch posts, and other household items can stimulate a cat’s desire to get moving.
F – Flea & Tick Prevention
It’s important year-round to ensure your pet has been treated with flea & tick medication as a preventive measure, but it is especially critical during the summer months when fleas and ticks are most active and you and your pet might be outside of the home more frequently.
G – Grooming
Grooming is a great opportunity for pets to get their nails trimmed, anal glands expressed, and fur coat trimmed, cut, or styled glamorously.
H – Heartworm Medication
Untreated heartworm disease can be fatal for your pet, so ensure they are up-to-date on either their injections, topical solutions, or chewable heartworm medicine.
I – Insurance
In addition to preventive care, pet insurance can be beneficial for pets and brings peace of mind to pet owners in case an accident or sudden illness occurs. Coverage typically includes emergencies, cancer, and chronic conditions.
J – Joint & Other Supplements
Supplements can be an excellent way to optimize your pet’s meals by improving their joints and gut flora.
K – Kongs & Catnip
You don’t need diamond-studded collars to say “I love you” to your pet. Instead, you can purchase toy items like Kongs for dogs (try a scoop of peanut butter inside as an added bonus) and catnip-infused toys for kitties for hours of entertainment.
L – Laser Pointers
Another great item to pick up is a laser pointer. It’s fun for both dogs and cats, a great form of exercise for them, and hilarious to you as a pet parent to watch your pet scurry around in futility trying to catch their laser prey.
M – Microchipping
A missing pet is one of the scariest moments a pet parent can experience. Standard protocol is to drive around town and post a flyer of your missing pet in the hopes that someone will find and return your beloved buddy, but another great option is to invest in microchipping. Microchipping is a very routine procedure and can be done during a routine wellness exam by a veterinarian.
N – Nutrition
Frequently, it takes a lot of trial and error to come up with an appropriate meal plan for our pets. They all have different palates, sensitivities, and occasionally allergies, and it’s important to find a nutritionally balanced diet that works for them and makes them happy. A great resource to determine what should be on your pet’s menu is your local veterinarian who can provide nutritional counseling.
O – Obedience Training
Obedience training is often the bane of a pet owner’s existence. It can be hard, time-consuming, and expensive. However, you can implement clicker training or other positive-reinforcement methods with the help of YouTube videos and online articles to minimize the cost of teaching basic obedience skills. Veterinarians and dog trainers are also great resources for more serious or extensive behavioral counseling.
P – Preventive Care
Pets should be seen at least twice a year by a veterinarian for preventive care, which may include getting vaccines, dental work, health screenings, laboratory tests, and more.
Q – Quests for food
Hide a few treats around the house and watch your dog sniff out and eat them. Cats can join the fun too and you can use products like fillable fake mice and hide them to let cats utilize their predatory instincts.
R – Room & Board
If you’re planning a getaway for you and your family, don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets. For first-timers, Yelp is a great resource to find highly-rated boarding facilities in your area. Many centers will understandably require vaccinations and approval from your veterinarian before boarding, so be sure to plan ahead and get the documentation in advance.
S – Snacks
“Do you want a sn—”? Before you can even finish, your pet has probably sat at attention and is eagerly awaiting their tasty treat. Snacks in moderation are great for rewarding good behaviors in your pets and sometimes as a ‘just because’ way to show your appreciation.
T – Traveling Together
One great way to throw a proverbial bone at your dog is to let them be your travel companion as you drive around town. Many dogs and even cats enjoy car rides and are able to catch up on the latest, delicious smells in the air when you crack a window open. Just be sure to leave the car running with the A/C on if you need to go inside, as cars can heat up within minutes and your pets cannot withstand those high temperatures.
U – Urinalyses, Blood Tests, & Fecal Exams
Urinalyses, blood tests, and fecal exams comprise regular health screenings your pet should receive in order to verify if they have any diseases or parasites that need to be treated.
V – Vaccines
One of the hallmark methods of keeping your pet safe is to ensure they are up-to-date on all of their vaccines. This will protect you and them from easily preventable diseases.
W – Words of Affirmation
It may sound silly, but speaking praises over your pet is an easy and impactful method of showing your pet you care about them. It doesn’t need to be a long-winded monologue about your undying devotion to Fluffy or Fido, but a simple “Who’s a good boy?” can go a long way.
X – X-rays
Sometimes we don’t know what’s wrong with our pet until we take a look under the surface with radiographs. Veterinarians can help pinpoint bone fractures, breathing difficulties, and much more with digital x-rays to help your pet get better.
Y – Yoga
For those who are fans of home workouts, it’s interesting to witness your pets trying to intervene, which can be an unnecessary hurdle when you’re trying to burn calories and it isn’t feasible to get to a gym or go outdoors. A workaround is performing an exercise where you can incorporate a willing pet. One such solution is doing doga (dog yoga) wherein you can lift smaller pets during certain positions or work on stretches with larger animals.
Z – Zoomies
Zoomies, or frenetic random activity periods (FRAPs), are seemingly random bursts of energy your dog can experience. According to Insider, your pup can experience the zoomies when they are trying to relieve stress, if they’re excited, experiencing peer pressure from other dogs, or if they are under-exercised and need more mobility in their lives. The best gift you can give a dog or other animal experiencing zoomies is to create a safe, enclosed space for them to run around and enjoy themselves.